If the Hon Don Pomb Polye has ever had an ambition to lead Papua New Guinea as Prime Minister it has been thwarted at every turn.
By PNG Echo
As a seasoned parliamentarian with more than 11 years experience under his belt, who has held ministerial portfolios up to, and including that of of Deputy Prime Minister (to Grand Chief, Sir Michael Somare in the pre-coup government), Don Pomb Polye seems fated to always be the bridesmaid and never the bride.
What’s more, he only held his most senior role for 5 months (in 2010) before being relieved of it by Sir Michael in a cabinet reshuffle.
Then in August of 2011, when Polye, surprisingly, backed the legally ill-advised political coup against Somare, (surprising because Polye was, with Somare, part of the same political party – the National Alliance) he was not the usurper.
Although Polye was easily the most senior parliamentarian to back the coup, he was overlooked for the top job in favour of an also-ran, who had been previously side-lined by the Somare government, Peter O’Neill.
For O’Neill, the rest is history.
To add further insult to considerable injury, Polye, when part of this government was relieved of the Ministry for Finance by O’Neill prior to the elections of 2012.
The Prime Minister informed him that: “This decision is taken in the best interest of the government.” Incompetence was the suggestion.
Furthermore, the ministry was not returned to him after the election.
And the slights kept coming.
Having won the seat of Kandep on the primary vote in 2012 (an unusual occurrence -although the fact that 27 opposing candidates recorded no votes at all – not even their own – is hard to believe) and given that his new T.H.E Party was the second highest polling party in the government coalition; and also considering he was the head of that party, the fact that he is not now Deputy Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea beggars belief.
And about none of this treatment has Polye ever complained. He has elevated forbearance to an art form.
How has he performed for Papua New Guinea?
As a civil engineer, in the portfolio of Minister for Transport, (that he held for more than eight years) is where Polye had his chance to shine.
He was disappointing.
It’s been mooted, that he “…failed to address the deteriorating condition of the transport system…”
Certainly, despite many years and copious amounts of money, he’s failed to build the Wasa Bridge in Kandep.
Moreover, Polye’s performance in another role (as Deputy Prime Minister) was clearly not pleasing to then Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare either.
The cabinet reshuffle that had Polye axed as Deputy Prime Minister was in anticipation of the likelihood of Somare having to step down as Prime Minister due to the imminent tribunal he was having to face for failing to provide annual returns.
Somare’s anointed replacement was not Don Polye but Sam Abal. Clearly he did not trust Polye to lead PNG.
When yet another Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, relieved Polye of a portfolio, the Ministry of Finance, and said it was because of of a “… continuing lack of ability by the department and ministry of finance to contain expenditure overruns outside of the budget appropriations…,” it is beginning to become evident that he too was ambivalent about Polye’s political prowess.
Leo Dion’s rise to the Deputy Prime Ministership in the stead of party leader, Polye, a ‘shoe in’ for the job after 2012 elections is further evidence of a lack of political confidence in this Engan.
But, be that as it may, Polye has kept his hands firmly on the reins of the Treasury and he has presided over a projected K15 billion budget.
Polye, also as the country’s Treasurer, has recently been appointed Chairman of the Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Under the circumstances, is anyone nervous?
Polye and Paraka.
The Anti-corruption, Task Force Sweep is poised to prosecute the biggest corruption scam PNG has ever seen – the Paraka case.
Arrested lawyer, Paul Paraka was (is) well connected politically. There is hardly a politician with which Paraka would not be on first-name terms.
That is why there has been considerable outrage that, along with Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill and Finance Minister James Marape, Polye, in a series (chain) of directives approved the illegal payment of K71 million to the lawyer.
In a letter dated 24th October 2012, Polye wrote to the Secretary for Treasury Simon Tosali, asking him to source special funding to settle lawyers’ legal bills.
“The Minister for Finance has made a formal request through my office for a special funding to settle the Lawyers’ legal bills. The Prime Minister is aware of these legal bills and has directed the bills to be settled”.
This is damning evidence, which is not completely mitigated by the Prime Minister’s claim the letter, signed by him, was forged.
For, in the best of circumstances, had Marape and Polye believed the letter to be genuine, it was, at least, pure negligence on their part that they never queried the PMs directive. They should have known that Paraka had been banned from doing any government work.
Polye’s career, littered with prestigious portfolios, but not quite the Prime Ministership, is mirrored by this new award: prestigious but not quite a knighthood